LIFE IS DEFINED BY FLOW. An invisible force that dictates what we do, how we do it, and everything that happens around us. Some people are able to find their flow early in life and spend time to nurture, develop, and grow it. People like Floyd Mayweather Jr. come to mind. People like Rickson Gracie, like Mikhail Baryshnikov, Sugar Ray Leonard, Buvaisar Saitiev and UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Jon Jones. People who were able to early on in life find that thing, that one thing, that very thing, that they were put on this earth to do, and did it. These people I consider not just successful. Successful is too trivial of a word to describe them. These people have a fulfilled sense of being. They have made use of their allotted time on this earth. They can die happy.
Jon Jones became the UFC champion when he defeated Mauricio Shogun Rua at UFC 128 in March 2011. He wasn’t just the youngest UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, at 23 years and 242 days old, he was the UFC youngest champion ever. Since then, he has defeated multiple MMA legends and successfully defended his belt seven times. His most recent win is over Glover Texiera, the virtually undefeated Mike Tyson-esque heavy hitting disciple of Chuck Liddell. There doesn’t seem to be anything stopping Jon Jones.
The more I watch Jon Jones succeed, the more I hate him. I hate that in three years since becoming champion, Jon Jones has beaten virtually every active light heavyweight contender. These guys aren’t just contenders. These guys aren’t just MMA heroes. These guys are my personal MMA heroes. They are UFC legends like Vitor Belfort, Rashad Evans, and Lyoto Machida. They are Pride heroes Rampage Jackson and Shogun Rua. Even before he became champion, Jon Jones defeated the likes of Ryan Bader, Brandon Vera, and Stephan Bonnar. Do you know why they call Vladimir Matyushenko “The Janitor”? During a wrestling match in Siberia, the US team made fun of the way Matyushenko dressed and the fact that he was wiping down the wrestling mats. Then during the competition, Matyushenko “wiped the floor” with the team including the 1992 Olympian Kevin Jackson. You guessed it, Jon Jones beat Vladimir Matyushenko. Jon Jones even beat my personal hero Matt Hamill. On record, the Matt Hamill fight is a loss for Jon Jones via disqualification from using 12 to 6 elbows. But Jon Jones was basically kicking Matt Hamill’s ass.
When evaluating Jon Jones and his success logically, it makes some sense. Jon Jones comes from an incredibly athletically gifted family. His brothers Arthur and Chandler Jones both play for the NFL. Jon was a really good high school wrestler and did well in the 2005 NHSCA (National High School Coaches Associatoin) Wrestling Championships. When he attended Iowa Central Community College, he won a JUCO (National Junior College Athletic Association) championship. He didn’t finish school and started training MMA in 2007. Jon Jones didn’t just drop out of the sky or appear from nowhere. Jon Jones has been fighting his entire life.
It is also worth mentioning a thing or two about the 2005 NHSCA championships and to put into context the level of wrestling Jon Jones has. Those of you who are familiar with wrestling can understand the intricacies of wrestling championships. Especially the ones revolving around high school wrestlers given that the top wrestlers hardly participate in the NHSCA as they already have their college teams picked and paved. This lack of competition was not the case in 2005. In 2005, Jon Jones competed in the same NHSCA tournament as Max Askren (2008 Olympian Ben Askren’s brother), Ohio State wrestler Mike Pucillo, and 2012 Olympian Jake Varner. Jon Jones came fourth out of this group, Jake came first. But coming fourth behind these elite wrestlers? That’s not an easy endeavor.
With seven consecutive title defenses, the question now becomes, has Jon Jones reached the status of being the greatest of all time? In my humble opinion, Jon Jones has not reached the halls of greatness quite yet. He may have an impressive list of wins over an impressive list of opponents but there is something missing. Jon Jones needs a war. All his fights except for perhaps the Alexander Gustafsson have been relatively easy. I want to see Jon Jones in a war. I want him to prove to me that he is a fighter with true grit. I want to see him hurt. I want to see him bloodied. I want to see him tested to the limits of his physical and mental boundaries. He hasn’t made it to the Best of The Best Fights list yet. For every Superman there must be a Lex Luthor. For every Silver Surfer there must be a Mephisto. For ever Batman there must be a Joker. For every Zeus there must be a Hades. I want to see tragedy and suffering before Jon Jones earns his crown as a great fighter. Jon Jones has yet to find his career defining battle, his life defining war.
The debate on Jon Jones’s status as Greatest of All Time remains. However one thing we can be certain of is that Jon Jones has found his flow. Jon Jones has found that one thing that he was meant to do in life. Most of us aren’t so lucky. Most of us struggle in an eternal pursuit to taste just one sweet enlightening droplet of flow. Then there are the most tragic of us who spend our entire lives chasing a flow that isn’t even our own. I guess it’s part of being human. It’s part of a daily struggle. But for gods like Jon Jones who prance from cloud to cloud on winged feet. Riding their flow, making the most of their allotted time. Those of us who aren’t so fortunate can only look on in twisted jealousy, empty of flow, just being human, the wretched beings that we are.